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Sweet As Swiss Apple Pie

Early one morning I read an article with seven questions to help you find your life's purpose (link

included). The first question was "what flavor of shit sandwich are you willing to eat?" In essence, the author was asking how willing are you to put yourself out there and look like a fool in order to try the things you've always wanted. Switzerland was a challenge for long-term-travel for a few specific reasons. #1 Swiss Alps. Massive mountains. #2 Everything is expensive. #3 Everything is really expensive. To give the average American an idea: one egg is about 1 USD in Switzerland. You can do the math. It is not financially feasible to get a hotel every night, so most nights we camp in a tent. Campsites can be as cheap as $5 per night. In Switzerland they were getting into the $30-$40 region - close to our daily budget. With that in mind, there wouldn't be much room for food or anything else. Wild camping (noun) 1. The act of erecting a tent outside commercialized campsite areas. Often in rural areas, distant from other campers.

Wild camping is one of our favorite ways to spend a night; out in nature with clear dark skies, beautiful stars, the ambiance of a creek and no sign of other people. It's a real solitude thing and it's free! It can be difficult in populated areas to find a good wild camp that is not on someone's property. So the next best option is to just ask someone with land if you can post up the tent for a night. Easy, if you can speak their language. So there we were, using a translator book that contained useful phrases like, "where is the nearest McDonalds?" We managed to pen a letter of broken German, complimented by pictures, to request a night's stay.


Lydia and I peddled down a gravel road for miles in the valley of the Alps in search of a worthy candidate. Branching off the road was a winding driveway into the hills with a bridge over a creek leading to an old farm house. We hopped off the bikes and started to walk them towards the distant house. Each step closer I questioned how intrusive this might be. We kept talking each other out of the idea and then back into it again. As we closed in on the house, surround by a fence, we saw a mother and some young adults, one being her daughter.

I waved at them and they squinted realizing they didn't have a clue who these unexpected visitors were.

I reminded myself that I was indeed willing to eat a shit sandwich today in order to try something outside my comfort zone. What's the worst that could happen, they say "no?"

"Hello," I called out with a big smile.Everyone behind the fence turned their heads to us. "Pardon, no sprechen sie deutsch," I said passing them the note over the fence.

The mother took it in hand, looking very puzzled by us and our note. She must have read it a few times to decipher what it was we wanted. Her daughter and husband joined in to consult about the note.

In the meantime a pig trampled over to us and began to eat Lydia's bike tire.

"No piggy!" I yelled, pushing his head to the side.

The family turned again to watch us, in amused skepticism. The husband spoke some English. He leaned against the fence that separated us.

Fence(Noun)1. A physical structures symbolizing limitation to the traveler. Proceed with caution around these structures. They also represent privacy and possessiveness of its contents.

"Do you have a tent?"


"Yes, we do." "Yeah it's great, set up anywhere you want." I couldn't believe it! It was no problem, and they were even giggling watching us fight the pigs off again. "Tonight, you need not worry," he said, " I'm not sure how to say the word in English, 'the beef?'" "Yes?" I replied. "I'm going to let the beef out before dark, but it is okay. They won't hurt you." He meant the cows. We set up camp near the creek. Upon the grassy hill we sat cooking rice and watching a waterfall as if it were our prime time television show. The trust and generosity of the farmer and her family left us feeling so welcomed into such a foreign part of the world. Just as we were discussing how kind they were, the daughter came down from the house. She held a plate and placed it before us. "It's from my mother she said." On the plate was two slices of fresh apple pie. "And you can come up to the house for water anytime you would like." We couldn't thank them enough. We just kept saying thank you in German because that's really all we new how to say. "Danke, danke schön!" We repeated. The apple pie was so sweet, but not as sweet as people who care. We wanted so badly to have the words to say thanks, but we new one thing was true. It feels so good to be able to warm someone else's heart. Accepting the gift is just as important as giving one. The smiles shared, without the language, spoke deeper than all the words we could conjure up. Lydia and I decided to draw them a picture in attempt to convey our appreciation. It is nice to feel like you have someone watching over you who cares once in a while, especially when you are in a place where you know nobody. In the morning we awoke to the cow bells outside the tent. One of the cows was chewing on Lydia's pannier and I jumped out of the tent to prevent yet another piece of equipment being turned into animal food. I told Lydia to stop smearing chocolate all over her bike, but I think she likes the attention. While packing up we saw the mother this time coming down from the house. "Hallo, Guten Morgan!" We said "Guten Morgan," she replied. In her hand was a coffee mug. She pointed to the mug, then at us, and then pointed back up to the house. Lydia and I smiled, "Ja!" We walked up with her to the farm house. Her dog wagged its tail and jumped on us to welcome us inside. She motioned us to sit down as she poured us cups of coffee. On the table sat a pitcher of fresh milk from the beef. "Chino! Chino!" She yelled, telling the dog to get down off my lap. I pointed to the dog, "Chino?" "Ja, Chino" she replied. I pointed to myself, "Pete" "Pete," she said. I pointed to Lydia, "Lydia." "Lydia." Then I pointed to her and paused. "Ruth" It's the simple things that make it all worth while. We all just sat there, with no words, drinking our coffees and smiling. We'd look at each other for a moment and then look down. And then laugh. Someone would point outside at the mountain. "Beautiful," said Ruth. She got up from the table and came back with more pie, bread and jam, cheese and ham. It was made known that we were to eat well before we headed back to the road. I could see in her eyes that she knew if her kids were out there in the big world she would want someone to do the same for them. So she made sure that my mom could sleep that night, knowing her boy was in the hands of some good people. Love and kindness hold no barriers against the language of the heart. There is a piece of every one of us that wants to give comfort. We mustn't ignore this instinct to love others as we love our family and our pets. It can feel a bit weary to open your arms to a stranger, but I'm sure if you were somewhere without a clue, you'd want a big hug. I know I do. And I got my big hug from Ruth just before we cycled Klausenpass over the Swiss Alps. That hug got my butt through those serpentine bends, up and over the mountain. My legs still burned, but my heart burned with the love of the sweet Swiss Apple Pie.

Reference Article "7 strange questions that help you find your life purpose" [if !supportLineBreakNewLine] [endif]

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